[vc_row full_width=”” parallax=”” parallax_image=””][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]The heart of the text (aka the Central Proposition of the Text) is one sentence that describes the thrust of the entire passage you are studying. It is an important part of study because it forces us to keep asking questions and striving for deeper knowledge and understanding.
Every section of Scripture has a point. We are not looking to invent a point. We are trying to find what the Holy Spirit is teaching us in the text. In this episode you will find several good questions to ask and ways to think about the text in order to bring out the meaning so that you can make appropriate application later.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator color=”grey” align=”align_center” style=”” border_width=”” el_width=””][vc_single_image image=”429″ style=”vc_box_rounded” border_color=”grey” img_link_large=”” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”medium” title=”Heart of the Text”][vc_separator color=”grey” align=”align_center” style=”” border_width=”” el_width=””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”” parallax=”” parallax_image=””][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]The Heart of Mark 1:16-39 is: “Jesus’ leadership, authority, compassion, and focus expressed Deity.”
That might seem simplistic, but it reflects what I see going on in this text. The episode explains how I came to that conclusion. I reveal what questions I asked and what my thinking process looked like.
(Note: In the episode, I call the heart of the text the CPT, which stands for Central Proposition of the Text.) The heart of the passage reflects not only what was specifically stated but also the intent of the author in stating it. If you don’t have some concept about why it was written, you cannot know whether you have found the main point of that text.
So how do you discover the purpose of the text? Here are questions we can ask to help out.
Questions To Bring Out The Purpose
Is there a clear statement of purpose?
This one is pretty obvious, but don’t forget that the statement of purpose does not need to be made in the passage you are studying. Here is where a reading of the entire book can be beneficial before studying one passage. You can also find this information in good Bible commentaries and other study materials.
To illustrate statements of purpose, consider these passages:
- Luke 1:1-4
- John 20:30-31
- Acts 1:1-2
- 1 Timothy 3:14-15
- Titus 3:8
- 1 Peter 5:12
In Mark 1:16-39, there is no statement of purpose from Mark. In fact, there is not a clear statement of purpose in the entire book.
Are there theological judgments in the passages that indicate purpose?
A “theological judgment” can be exactly what it sounds like: a judgment about theological ideas. The text might be written to explain ideas and tell us specifically what to believe about those ideas. Many good and easy examples can be found in the book of 1 Corinthians. It seems that Paul had a list of questions and simply addressed them one by one throughout much of the letter.
If you see judgments against actions or people, whether condemning or praising them, this might also indicate purpose.
In the text we are looking at, there is nothing about theology and doctrine, but there are some judgments being made by people. We see that in the disciples abandoning their work to follow Jesus. It shows in the exclamations of wonder from the people who heard Him teach and cast out a demon. Judgments about Jesus are made by the people who came from the entire town to bring Him their sick to be healed. And Jesus made a judgment about His work in deciding to move to the next towns instead of staying where He was wanted.
All of these “judgments” made force us toward the idea that Mark wants us to experience something or at least understand. This is Jesus. This is what it was like to see Him in action.
Are there statements intended to be warning or example?
Warnings and examples are great at pointing out purpose. These can be warnings (or even appeals to act a certain way) that are pointed directly to people. They can also reveal themselves in the narratives. We might see a man sin and then see the punishment that comes to him as a result. This would stand as a warning to everyone to whom it applies.
Not every activity in the Bible is intended to be a direct warning or example, but we can probably learn some principle from every activity. No one should believe that when Noah built the ark it was an example for us to literally to the same. But we need to learn the principle that we should obey God if we hope to be saved in the end.
Because of the nature of the activities recorded in the Bible in various contexts and under various legal systems shown, we must exercise caution when answering this question. But don’t let that need for caution prevent you from making the effort or you will miss a lot that the Bible offers.
Why do you think the Holy Spirit would record this material for us?
It is granted that we are not God and we cannot possibly read His mind. Obviously, we should be careful when we answer this question–careful that we do not attribute something to God that should not be attributed to Him. Consider these points about this though if you are skeptical of discovering anything about purpose using this question.
- God is reasonable by nature. He deals in reality and reality can be understood by reasoning and logic. We can only reason using facts and details that we actually KNOW, but there are things that God has revealed with which we can use to help find meaning and purpose.
- God wanted to communicate with us so that we could understand Him. To suggest that we cannot possibly understand anything about God is to suggest that it is not possible for Him to communicate with us in a way that we can understand. That is completely false.
- We can be assured that finding some information out about Him and His purposes are possible. We can also know that this is exactly what He wants us to do.
From my personal observation and study, it seems logical that the Holy Spirit would want to record the book of Mark in order to build faith in Jesus. That coincides with His statement through Paul in Romans 10:17. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
The more we hear the Bible (that is, hear and understand it), the more our faith can grow. It is the starting point for faith. (Obviously, if we hear and accept but do not act, faith never develops as it should. James 2 calls that a “dead faith”.)
Having determined that the Holy Spirit’s intention (at least in part) was to produce faith, we need to ask a follow-up question. What does this text specifically have to do with developing faith in someone?
The answer should be obvious to any of us. By seeing what Jesus did and how He conducted Himself, we learn more about Him. The more we learn about Him and see others give us the example of devotion He deserves, the more our commitment and faith will grow.
Is there anything unusual in the text that might help indicate purpose?
There are some very unusual things in this text–looking at it from a human perspective. Those of us who are very familiar with the Bible might not see these things as peculiar because we are so used to seeing them.
Think of it from the perspective of someone reading this for the first time and you see that “unusual” permeates the entire passage. Nothing that Jesus does is “usual”.
- Men left their livelihood to follow someone they (seemingly) just met.
- Jesus said He would make them “fishers of men”. What does that mean? From our perspective, on this side of the cross, we can easily understand that. But what about them when they heard it?
- Jesus amazed people with His speech.
- Jesus cast out a demon. Highly unusual. Why was the demon-possessed person there? What does it mean? How can someone be possessed? Does it still happen? (Note: if you are not sure about how to answer these questions, you really should make answering them a part of your studies of this passage before moving on to the next passage. But if you choose to come back to it and study it later or just want to discuss it with me to get my ideas on them, send me an email and I’ll be glad to share what I know about this stuff. That applies to any Bible topic for that matter.)
- Jesus healed people. That’s highly unusual and ought to bring up a lot of other questions in our minds. We need to deal with these questions as they come up so that the next times we see things of this nature we have a better idea about what is happening.
- Jesus went out by Himself to pray. Why did Jesus need to pray if He is God in the flesh? It is unusual from a human perspective.
- Jesus was sought after but He refused to go back to them. He came to teach people, and He had an audience there who evidently wanted to get to know Him more. Why wouldn’t He want to go be with them?
- There are probably “unusual” things here, but you see what we need to consider.
The unusual things are important in finding purpose because if something unusual is recorded it is either something they the author wants you to ask about or it is something so “normal” to the author that he does not even consider it something unusual anymore. In either case, we ought to be looking into those things for different reasons.
In the case of the author wanting us to look into it, obviously this indicates at least part of the reason he recorded it for us. In this passage, Mark would be recording it to get us to look more closely at Jesus.
As for it being something that is now “normal” the very fact that what is unusual is “normal” should make us look closely at the situation. If it were a “normal” activity to cast out demons (it seems that Mark recorded it that way), that in itself demands that we look into Jesus and ask some questions about Him. In this way, Mark causes us to look more closely at Jesus.
So whether Mark pointed it out in order to make us pay attention to it, or he told us about it because it was so normal, either one creates the same effect.
[NOTE: It is important to note, however, that “unusual” should not always be seen as the focus. In Mark 1:16-39 some people might be tempted to make this all about casting out demons and healing the sick, as if the only reason Mark recorded it was to show us an example of what godly people should be able to do (in their opinion).
The point of “miracles, signs, and wonders” in the Bible is not the miracles, signs, and wonders. The point is ALWAYS God. These things point to Jesus as the Son of God.
Some good-hearted people have made the “miracle passages” nothing more than a “How-to Guide to Spiritual Workings”. If that is all we see in the text, we have missed everything. It is similar to people praising the scaffolding on a building instead of looking at what the scaffolding is used to do: Paint the building. The “scaffolding” of the miracles is not the focus. The miracles are the tools used to paint the picture of Jesus. HE is the point.]
Pieces of the Passage’s Heart
There are two basic components of the CPT: the subject and the predicate.
Subject: What is the text about?
Predicate: What is the text saying about the subject?
It has been a joke for a long time that if you are asked a question in Bible class and you do not know the answer, just answer, “Jesus” because it’s all about Him.
Well, it IS all about Him, especially this text in Mark 1:16-39. But it is not that simple. Stating that this is about Jesus misses some of the purpose behind the text.
This passage is about the essence of Jesus. More precisely, it is about the expression of Deity through Jesus. So that is the subject: “expression of Deity”
What is the predicate? The parts of the text should be explained or summarized so that the entire text can be explained in one statement. For example, we could simply say, “Jesus expressed God.” That is certainly true, but it is not specific. It could be said about almost every section of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Looking at the passages, we see definite characteristics about Jesus being revealed: leadership, authority, compassion, and focus.
It would be possible to write books on each of those characteristics displayed in the life of Jesus, so these are still generic statements, but at least we are being a little more specific.
This text could easily have been broken into four parts and studies individually. Perhaps that is something you will want to do one day. I hope to attempt it one day myself, but there are also so many other nuggets and treasures left to find in the Bible!
Would you state the CPT in the same way I did? Were you able to state it in a more concise and detailed way? Comment below or contact me directly to discuss it further.
May God bless the study of His word!
~Jason[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”” parallax=”” parallax_image=””][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]